Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET at BMO Harris Bradley Center
Game Preview: Pacers at Bucks
Scott Agness | Updated: April 8, 2014, 5:00 p.m.
With 78 games behind them, the Pacers (53-25) have just four regular season games remaining over the next week. Three of them are on the road, starting with Wednesday night’s game in Milwaukee.
This is the Pacers’ fourth meeting with the Bucks (14-63), a division opponent. Each of the first three matchups has been closer than the last. After whipping the Bucks by 27 points in mid-November, the last two games were decided by 10 and five points, respectively — still, both were Pacers wins.
Milwaukee, who has been hit by a number of injuries, sits at the bottom of the NBA standings. Their 63rd loss, suffered Saturday against Toronto, set a new franchise record for losses in a season. They’ve maintained their league-worst record even as the Philadelphia 76ers lost an NBA record-tying 26 consecutive games over a two-month span.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel gave the entire team Monday off and in unusual form, gave the starters Tuesday off as well. Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert haven’t missed a start and all five starters have played in at least 73 games (94 percent). Their lack of rest is by no means the sole factor in the Pacers' recent swoon, but Vogel believes it is contributing factor.
Vogel wouldn’t commit to who would or wouldn’t play on Wednesday night, only stating, “Not everybody will play. We’ll pick our spots over the final four games to get the guys that need rest some rest and in the meantime, try to win all four games.”
Pacers backup point guard C.J. Watson, who has missed 17 of the last 18 games with a sprained right elbow and hamstring injuries, is hopeful to return to the lineup on Wednesday. He practiced with the team for the first time in more than a month on Tuesday and should be in the lineup if his body responds well. Rookie Solomon Hill sat out the last two games with a sore back, but said he will be active.
The Miami Heat, Indiana’s opponent on Friday, have played two less games but have a two-game lead in the loss column for the Eastern Conference’s No.1 seed.
This is a game where the Pacers, who’ve lost six straight road games, need to just go in to the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a laser-sharp focus and handle their business. Nothing is better for a struggling team than coming out on top. And the Bucks are in worse shape than the Pacers, losers of five in a row and 13 of their last 14 games.
Pacers: C.J. Watson (day-to-day, right hamstring strain), Andrew Bynum (out, sore right knee); Starters George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert will all sit out (rest)
Bucks: O.J. Mayo (doubtful, sprained right ankle), Carlos Delfino (out, right foot surgery), Ersan Ilyasova (out, sore right ankle), Larry Sanders (out, fractured orbital bone), Nate Wolters (out, fractured left hand)
“I think rest and healing up nagging injuries is part of the solution. It’s not the whole solution but I think it’s part of it. Obviously we haven’t been very strong with our shot making of late. Our defense the other night was bad in terms of containing the basketball as we’ve been all year. I think that has to do with legs and commitment. We just want to be mindful of making sure we’re as fresh as possible going into the playoffs.” – Frank Vogel
“I think for us it’s just about playing better basketball. We hadn’t put together solid enough games before this point to be the all out 1-seed. I think teams have figured out ways to attack us and it breached us a little bit. It was a breach in our armor. We’re going to keep fighting.” – David West
“We still got a chance to be No. 1, and it’s not a crazy chance. We win our games and it’s a big chance that we get it. It doesn’t really matter if we’re 1 or 2. The main thing for us right now is just to be ready to get better and to get over this bad time that we’re having.” – Luis Scola
“It went alright. Pretty good. Just trying to get out there and move a little bit, see what I can and can’t do. It’s been a long month. Good to be back out there.” – C.J. Watson after his first practice in a month
- The Pacers have won five games in a row over the Bucks, and 10 of the last 12.
- Roy Hibbert is fourth in the league in blocks with 2.31 per game, and he rejected a season-high eight shots against Milwaukee in November.
- In games that followed at least two days rest, the Pacers are 17-1 this season.
- The Pacers have only used three different starting lineup combinations this season.
February 27: It didn’t come as easy as expected, but Indiana pulled out a win it should have, beating the Bucks, 101-96. The Pacers scored the final 11 points in the third, as the Bucks missed 10 consecutive shots, and led by seven entering the fourth quarter. It was just a one-possession game with two minutes to play when Roy Hibbert, who tallied a game-high 24 points, finished the job. He hit a pair of free throws, got a rebound at the other end and then buried an 11-footer to put the Pacers up by nine and finish them off.
Paul George and Lance Stephenson each contributed 18 points. Brandon Knight had a team-high 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting, and Khris Middleton added 22. The Pacers were 19-of-22 on free throws and outscored the Bucks by 11 points at the line.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio:AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)